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Shall we play a game? What BP learned from Hollywood

Last weekend I was talking to a friend who had recently been to the Pentagon to talk to some honchos, and he said he'd even made it to the depths of the building where the real dark arts are practiced. He made the observation that it was pretty clear that a lot of the design of the place was most likely influenced by Hollywood -- that is, by their cinematically-constructed beliefs about what the Pentagon ought to look like. 

This is a widespread phenomenon, one that is most obviously at work in the tourist-trap area of most historical cities. We don't want to know what Rome is really like; we want to see a Rome that fits our sense of what it ought to be like, which is why there is a market for the faux-authentic in the first place. 

This is harmless enough in the case of mass tourism, but what about when a major corporation preys on our assumptions of authenticity to buff its much-tarnished image? That's the heart of the controversy over the faked images of BP's command centre. As Chris MacDonald points out, the images aren't misleading in any material way; rather, they seem designed to enhance the "authenticity" of the command centre, by making it look more like the one we all remember from movie's like War Games. 

Does it really matter? I agree with Chris, that this doesn't really affect the cleanup at all, nor does it really do much further damage to the company's reputation. But I'm tempted to go even further and (setting aside their despicable attempt at blaming the photographer) offer a half-hearted defence of the company, since you can sort of see their reasoning on this: As the spill has dragged on, it has become increasingly imperative for the company to be seen to be In Charge, to be Doing Something. And in the eyes of a public trained by years of Hollywood action films, the people In Charge and Doing Something are always in a room full of lots of screens showing video, graphs, charts, satellite images, and so on. You can imagine them saying to themselves, cripes, if we show our workers sitting in front of a bunch of blank screens, they'll think we don't have a handle on the spill. 

Yes, this is a weak defence, and it is in no way intended to let the company off the hook for any of its many transgressions against basic morality. But it does serve, I think, as an example of what happens in a culture where authenticity, as distinct from truth, is the cardinal virtue. 

INSTANT UPDATE: Seconds after I posted this, I came across this website, Hollywood Screens, devoted to cataloging all of the cool command screens in Hollywood movies. And lo, what is there at the very top? They've posted the pic of the BP command centre.